C is for Commode! (or Penis Envy: a Costumer’s Dilemma)

restroom-signs-e-men-womenIf you asked me last week what I would write about this week, I would have said ‘C’ is for Continuity, but on Wednesday I was searching for an email in my sent files and came across this letter that I sent while on my last location shoot in an exotic locale… so I thought that this was so much more fun!

Flight of the Porta Potties

Flight of the Porta Potties

The letter reads:

To all the woman in my life!

Hello! This may be a little gross, so if you are squeamish about bathroom things don’t read!

The challenges of being on location…

If you even find yourself working in a B.Y.O.T.P. (bring your own toilet paper) area, there are several things to think about when having to attempt numbers 1 or 2:IMG_1899

For example, as of a day ago, we had 2 choices for facilities:

1st The inside bathroom:

This was in the building that was near the trucks, and featured a spectacular line up to get in. The line-up… which included local film extras, crew members and all the children from the neighborhood… often made for lively pee-dancing fun for those of us who had been holding our bladders for the hour or more drive to work.

Having entered, you experience what had once been a beautifully tiled room but now had the patina of neglect… all the receptacles were in place but the running water was missing… and don’t look at the grout!

A quiet moment... no line up!

A quiet moment… no line up!

The first question in your mind should be do you have your own toilet paper? (This is actually a trick question because toilet paper is not actually used here!) Once confirming this, you roll up your pant legs (if wearing long pants); do this before entering the room so as not to dunk your cuffs in the floor puddles (this I learned how to do in Dubai while on location there).

The floor is always full of water because the women and children also use the stalls to have a splash bath in the morning. I found this out one morning while standing in the snake-ish line-up to pee before work… interesting!

Anyway, back to the beautifully tiled sanctuary… always remember to hunt down and fill a bucket with water from the large barrel by the sink; you will need this to flush later. I learned this the first day when a woman grabbing at my sleeve kindly showed me by charades what I needed to do. Now splash through the puddles, put your bucket of water on the floor, lift your hip belt or set bag up around your bust line (can’t leave it outside), wiggle your trousers down and squat away. This is when the locals use the trusty splash bucket. Yikes, no splash bucket for me! This is when I use my trusty self-provided toilet paper to clean up … then look for a place to put it…. there won’t be one. Crap, I forgot the baggy!

(In Dubai, no toilet paper either, there was the bidet hose… I still can’t understand how they can hose themselves down with that much water and not come out all wet. Where do they put their clothing while they are in that tiny little room?)

After putting yourself back together, retrieve your bucket and pour water into the toilet until everything has gone down. When leaving your stall, hand the bucket to the next woman in line… which is very long and pleasantly chatty… then wash (in the large barrel) and go!

2nd Option is the bright blue Porta potties outside:

Yep, there they are way at the back of the photo. Bit of a jog from the top where I was.

Yep, there they are way at the back of the photo. Bit of a jog from the top where I was.

If there is an attendant with the Porta Potties, they can be a little cleaner, drier and sometimes have toilet paper. The bathroom attendant sit outside the door, very close outside the door, in listening distance close to the door. If you have stage fright this is the time to get over it!

These glowing blue boxes get hot, very hot in the heat of the day, it is like hot yoga. You still need to lift your set bag, possibly clenching it in your teeth to keep your hands free, sweat tickling from your hair-line down your back as you balance in the wobbling plastic environment doing a modified chair pose. I mean really, I get a free Bikrams class, so I should be happy right?

What’s really great about the Porta Potties is after you are done you can throw all your paper products down the chute! Yippee! Oh yeah, don’t forget to bring your own water bottle; this will be used for flushing and washing your hands!

Yesterday we moved to a new set and lost our lovely tiled bathroom with the bucket and line up of chatting women and children that I have so grown used to.

We now have the CR (comfort room) known as the BOX. This is a 2-bathroom unit on wheels, with a shower if needed… but I wonder where the water comes from because there is none in the sink… curious. It is made of stainless steel diamond plate (you know, the stuff they use on truck beds), and is much more like being cooked in the oven when the sun is shining on it. The air is so hot and dry you need to bring a bottle of water to drink just to make it through the wee break! IMG_2542 

When and if you need to enter the box, the stairs are not stairs… they are a four-step ladder. There are three nice attendants, one of which climbs the ladder after you so he can hold the door closed while you tinkle! Sometimes he gets distracted and the door does come crashing open… stay in a full squat, everything is covered! And sometimes there is toilet paper; but you must remember to put all paper products in the trash bin supplied… no matter what area you have wiped! Word to the wise… don’t look into the trash bin, you don’t want to know!

IMG_2541There are no toilet seats here, so those core muscles are put to good use. And for the love of everything, I cannot figure out how to flush. I have tried the button on the back… it does nothing! You don’t get to bring the splash bucket in here, that is someone else’s job. Once you are finished, the very nice man who held the door closed for you, comes in and does all the clean up, yep… all the clean up.

When we work nights, I want you all to know that the bathrooms do not have lights… so all of these little trials happen in the dark! If you tie a flashlight on a string you can hang it around your neck and enjoy the light show while you balance precariously in your yoga position, grip your bag in your teeth and try not to piddle on the seat.

Oops, I missed!

Oh dear, I forgot my toilet paper and I don’t speak the language!

How do I say ‘sorry’ again?

I hope you all enjoy your next pee! Think of me and have a good laugh,

Love you all,


Going to the bathroom, at least for the females on the crew, is often a challenge and one that is talked about a lot!

How fast does bare flesh freeze at this temp?

How fast does bare flesh freeze at this temp? Yep that is me just looking at the view!

I mean really, are you going to drop trou (or snow pant) in high winds on top of a mountain surrounded by 15 men with no where to hide? Or are you going to not have anything to drink that day? I know that not drinking fluids is unhealthy. That causes all sorts of problems that we females deal with on a regular basis… yes, bladder infections… but the reality of it all is that there aren’t a lot of options!

I was on a show that shot long hours on the ocean in a boat with no bathroom. I had two choices to alleviate my bathroom needs; sit on the gunnels and pee over the edge, of course the guys just get to stand there and do it (penis envy), or hold it… I will let you guess which I chose.

I called a friend to come out and do the 2nd unit for me. I told her the issues and suggested that limiting her drinking was probably in her best interest for this day.

Not remembering my dire warnings, she and the props girl purchased Venti drinks while waiting for the boat in the morning. For the rest of the day both ladies took turns squatting in the 2 foot-square engine compartment with their heads popping up above the floor boards, re-filling the Venti cup, and assisting one and other in tossing cups full of pee over the edge.

I am not sure this is what Starbucks meant when they offered free re-fills!starbucks-venti-cup-748821

When, where and how to go pee is one of the very real challenges that we deal with every day. Thanks to all the women that are out there pioneering the women’s free pee movement, there are now more options available to help us deal with our tinkle-on-the-go needs. shewee-main

I have purchased and plan to use, if I ever remember to drag it along, the Shewee. It is an ingenious little contraption that is supposed to help you pee like a man… standing! (And to the all the guys out there, this is truly one of the only times we females have penis envy!)

I also stumbled across this add while surfing the net for Shewee Go… which includes a pee bag and tube ststem… and I’m thinking, snow suits, high altitude or the middle of the ocean… so much better than the Depends option! Worth a look…shewee2

I am sharing this because no matter where you went to school and what they taught you, I can promise this was not a topic up for discussion anywhere in class.

Hey, if you have some great stories or even some clever solutions, share them in the comments. I would love to get a laugh and it will probably help some poor soul somewhere!

So grab your Shewee and have an adventure today!

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